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State grant could bring Mercy Flight to Niagara air base

A $500,000 state grant aimed at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station could bring the Mercy Flight helicopter ambulance to the base.

The goal is to use the money to create an emergency services hub at the base, which is Niagara County’s largest employer. The money comes from Empire State Development.

Local officials hope to expand opportunities for law enforcement, volunteer firefighters and Mercy Flight to use the base’s hangars for emergency services, said State Sen. Robert G. Ortt, who announced the money at a news conference Monday.

“Utilizing the pre-existing assets of the Niagara Falls Air Base will help expand our emergency services presence in Orleans and Niagara counties," Mercy Flight President Doug Baker said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is considering a $7.7 million appropriation for facilities improvement at the air reserve station. The funding would consolidate all Air National Guard unmanned air operations and training at the base into a single site in the current squadron operations center.